Thursday, May 14, 2015

Survivor Groups to USCCB National Lay Review Board: Why in God's Name Is Resigned and Disgraced Bishop Robert Finn Slated to Ordain Priests in May?

Several groups of abuse survivors and advocates for abuse survivors have written the National Lay Review Board a letter that, in my view, deserves very serious attention. A bit of background: this board is the official body of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that advises the bishops on handling the abuse crisis in American Catholicism. The letter to the USCCB National Lay Review Board is from Bishop Accountability, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. The signatories are Anne Barrett Doyle and Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability, Kristine Ward of NSAC, and David Clohessy of SNAP.

The letter tells the National Lay Review Board:

We are writing you today to express our dismay at the news that Bishop Robert Finn has been given special permission to perform ordinations of new priests and deacons in the Kansas City diocese later this month.   

More background: though Finn has now resigned his position as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph several years after his criminal conviction in a case that found him guilty of endangering minors by keeping in ministry a priest he had every reason to know posed a threat to children, it was recently made public that Finn will be ordaining a new crop of priests in Kansas City on 23 May. 

The entirely understandable response of survivors and survivor-advocacy groups, in the letter to the National Lay Review Board:

What kind of message does it send when a man who could not pass the background check in his own diocese is the one ordaining new priests? Does his crime mean nothing? Do the children Ratigan abused mean nothing? Does the pain of parishioners mean nothing? 
A convicted and disgraced bishop is the last person who should be ordaining a new priest or deacon. 
Finn should have no public role in church life at this point. He should hold no positions of power. He should be assigned a life or prayer and penance out of respect for the victims, who will never be able to undo what Ratigan did to them, and out of respect for thousands of betrayed and wounded Kansas City Catholics.

The survivor groups that are signatories to this letter are calling on the National Lay Review Board to denounce the plans for Finn to ordain a batch of seminarians in May. In my humble opinion, they're entirely warranted in making this request, and the decision to have Finn in all his glory at the altar for the upcoming ordination reflects extremely poorly on the Vatican, which, when all is said and done, has to have given the final stamp of approval to these plans, given how things work in the governing structures of the Roman Catholic Church.

And some folks ask why the U.S. Catholic church is losing members faster than a body in extremis emptying of its life's blood. Arrogance and callous stupidity seem to be the middle name of far too many top Catholic dignitaries — again, IMHO.

On the graphic, which is from The Evening Ledger (Philadelphia), 4 May 1916, and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for online sharing, see this link.

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